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Posts Tagged ‘mele’

MeLE Star Cloud PCG60 Plus Cherry Trail Mini PC Comes with HDMI and VGA Outputs, Gigabit Ethernet and More

January 19th, 2016 12 comments

Most Cherry Trail mini PCs on the market features only one video interface, usually HDMI, and only support 10/100M Ethernet. After introducing MeLE PCG03 Plus a few months ago, MeLE is about to launch a new Cherry Trail mini PC called Start Cloud PCG60 Plus that includes both HDMI and VGA video output, two USB 2.0, but also faster networking thanks to Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac.

Click to Enlarge

MeLE PCG60 prototype, the final product will include a grey/silver WiFi antenna – Click to Enlarge

MeLE Star Cloud PCG60 specifications (highlights in bold show improvements over MeLE PCG03 Plus):

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.84 GHz (Turbo) with Intel HD Gen8 graphics
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD card slot up to 128 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4, and VGA
  • Audio I/F – HDMI, 3.5mm earphone jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power Button, standby and activity LEDs
  • Power Supply – 12V/1A
  • Dimensions – 110 x 110 x 38 mm (Metallic case)
The fanless system run Windows 10 Home 64-bit with a proper license, as MeLE is one of Microsoft’s IP license partners. The company showcased both MeLE PCG03 Plus and PCG60 at CES 2016. Please note since the event, PCG60 has been renamed to PCG60 Plus.

MeLE’s representative says MeLE PCG60 Plus will be available at the end of the month, but that should be to distributors and resellers, and the company told me that the mini PC will be listed for $169 on Aliexpress in March.

Via Netbook Italia and AndroidPC.es

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MeLE PCG03 Plus mini PC Gets Cherry Trail x5-Z8300 Processor

October 12th, 2015 1 comment

Beside MeLE PCG02 TV stick with Ethernet, MeLE also showcased an upgraded version of its MeLE PCG03 mini PC with MeLE PCG03 Plus replacing Atom Z3735F processor with a more recent Intel Atom “Cherry Trail” x5-Z8300 processor.
MeLE_PCG03_Plus
MeLE PCG03 Plus specifications show they’ve only changed the processor:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz (Bust freq: 1.84 GHz) with Intel HD Gen8 graphics
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4, and VGA
  • Audio I/F – HDMI, 3.5mm earphone jack
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host
  • Misc – Power Button, power LED, Kensington security lock
  • Power Supply – 12V/1A
  • Dimensions – 150 x 120 x 40 mm

Cherry_Trail_VGA_Output

There should be some performance improvements over the previous model, but nothing phenomenal. MeLE PCG03 Plus will ship with Windows 10 Home (activated), and sell for $149 shipped before the end of the year. [Update: You can now buy MeLE PCG03 Plus on Aliexpress]

Via Netbook Italia

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MeLE PCG02 Intel TV Stick Features an Ethernet Port

October 12th, 2015 3 comments

I’ve previously reviewed MeLE PCG01 TV stick powered by Intel Atom Z3735F, and found it to be well designed, without overheating issues, so that this Intel TV stick performed just as well as as bigger mini PCs. NotebookItalia found out that the company is now about to launch a new version at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair 2015. MeLE PCG02 is still based on the same Bay Trail processor, but it interestingly comes with an Ethernet port rarely found on TV sticks.

MeLE_PCG02Apart from the extra Ethernet port taking the place of one USB port, the specifications are pretty similar:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F  “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics Gen 7 (2W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 with external antenna
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB port (for power only)
  • Misc – Power button, Kensington lock
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – N/A

The stick looks much sticker on the video compared to the picture, and sticks seem to be getting larger and larger…

The device is pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home (Activated), and will start selling in November for $119 shipped. A Cherry Trail version is also planned.

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A Look at Android and Windows Mini PCs’ Power Consumption in Power Off, Standby, Idle, and Video Playback Modes

September 22nd, 2015 18 comments

I’ve previously measured power consumption of Amlogic S812 and Rockchip RK3288 based TV boxes using a multimeter. This provides relatively accurate measurements, as well as neat power consumption profiles of devices, but it’s a little complex and time-consuming, so it’s not something I would do for all devices. The easiest way to measure power consumption is to use a kill-a-watt type of device, but my first one broke after only 3 months last year.  I purchased a new one recently, so I run run some power measurement tests on several devices.

Tronsmart_Orion_R68_Power_Consumption
I selected five devices for this test:

The procedure used the device’s power supply, and I connected an HDMI cable, and MeLE F10 RF dongle to the device only.  The devices were connected to the network over WiFi, except for Open Hour Chameleon, where I had to use Ethernet, since the device does not include WiFi. The video output was set to 1080p60 for all devices.

The power consumption was measured for five different scenarios:

  1. Power Off mode, after shutdown (when available)
  2. Standby/Sleep mode (when available)
  3. Idle mode, a few minutes after boot.
  4. 1080p60 video – bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_normal.mp4 video playback in “Movie & TV” app in Windows, or MX Player in Android using a SAMBA server
  5. 1080p60 video in Kodi – bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_normal.mp4 video playback in Kodi 14.x or 15.x (depending on pre-installed version in firmware) using a SAMBA server

I did not change any settings in the video players before playback, and AFAIK all of them used hardware video decoding.

Power Off Standby/Sleep Idle 1080p60 Video 108060 Video in Kodi
MeLE PCG01 0.4W 5.2~6.0W 3.2~4.2W 4.0~5.2W 7.1~8.2W
Zidoo X9 0.3W N/A 7.4~8.4W 8.2~9.2W 9.2~10W
Open Hour Chameleon N/A 1.2W 3.4W 5.2~6.0W 5.0~5.4W
Tronsmart Orion R68 0W 2.0~2.4W 3.0~3.2W 3.3~4.0W 5.0~5.4W
Tronfy MXIV 1.2W 3.0~3.2W 3.0~3.4W 4.4~5.3W 6.1~7.4W

I’ve also drawn a chart for all five tests and devices using the average value.

Low_Power_mini_PCs_Power_ConsumptionPower off, when implemented, is usually working as it should, with the devices consuming between 0 and 0.4 Watt, but for some reasons Tronfy MXIV’s power off mode power consumption is a little higher at 1.2 Watts. However, standby / sleep mode power consumption is rather on the high side, except for Open Hour Chameleon, and in the case of MeLE PCG01, you’d even waste energy by going into Sleep mode, based on the results I got. I waited a few minutes to make sure, but power consumption stayed in the 5.2 to 6.0 Watts range.

The only Intel device actually did pretty good, against its ARM based competitors, and it’s Zidoo X9 that has the worst power consumption, which may or may not due extra features like HDMI input and is not turned off when not in use, or it’s simply the overall system design is not optimized for low power consumption. The box will the lowest power consumption is Tronsmart Orion R68.

I also wanted to see if performing a given task, e.g. playing a 1080p 60 fps H.264 video, in different apps would yield different power consumption results, and in most cases Kodi consumes more power than MX Player in Android or “Movie & TV” app in Windows. The only exception being Chameleon where Kodi consumes a little less than MX Player. It’s probably not that important in TV boxes, but if you are watching videos on the go, Kodi may deplete your battery faster.

Finally, I also wanted to evaluate the cost of using the device, using the extreme case of playing Big Buck Bunny video 24 hours a day for 365 days in Kodi, and the case of playing it only 2 hours a day, with the 22 hours left in standby or power off. The costs are based on my electricity rate (4 Baht / KWh or about $0.1108 US per KWh):

365 Days / 24 Hours 2 Hours a Day
KWh Cost KWh Cost
MeLE PCG01 67.0 $7.43 8.8 $0.97
Zidoo X9 84.1 $9.32 9.4 $1.04
Open Hour Chameleon 45.6 $5.05 13.4 $1.49
Tronsmart Orion R68 45.6 $5.05 3.8 $0.42
Tronfy MXIV 59.1 $6.55 14.6 $1.61

From a cost perspective, there’s just over $4 difference between the best and worst device if the box plays a video continuously for a year, while if you watch videos for about 2 hours a day only, the maximum cost does not exceed $1.61 per year on Tronfy MXIV, and that’s provided you don’t disconnect the power supply after use. So it’s probably much more important to check out your TV and/or AV receiver power consumption than the one of your media player.

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MeLE F10 BT is a $20 Bluetooth Air Mouse and Keyboard

September 1st, 2015 5 comments

MeLE is mostly known as a manufacturer of Android TV boxes and air mice, and I use MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse in all my Android mini PCs review, as even though it’s not perfect it does the job much better than an IR remote control, and is more convenient to use than a USB keyboard. The two MeLE air mouse I’ve purchased come with a 2.4GHz RF dongle that needs to be connected to a USB port of the device you want to control,  but now the company is now about to launch a Bluetooth model with MeLE F10 BT.

MeLE_F10_BT
MeLE F10 BT (RF01BL) specifications:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 (CSR1011)
  • IR support – Yes, including IR learning function.
  • Buttons Life – About 100,000 presses
  • Sensors – G-sensor, Gyroscope
  • Keyboard – QWERTY keyboard
  • Battery – 2x AAA batteries (>30 days in standby mode)
  • Dimensions – 169x48x19 mm

MeLE_F10_BT_BatteryBeside Bluetooth connectivity, the function are about the same as MeLE F10 Deluxe with a game mode (MeLE TV boxes only), IR learning function, a QWERTY keyboard, and air mouse mode. However, the built-in battery has been replace with a compartment for two AAA batteries. MeLE F10 BT is compatible with Windows 7/8/10, Mac, Linux, and Android operating systems.

The latest MeLE air mouse will sell for $19.99 including shipping on MeLE Aliexpress store once it launches in the middle of September.

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Windows 10 on MeLE PCG03, PCG01 and Other Intel Atom Z3735F Devices

August 12th, 2015 6 comments

For some reasons, after installing Ubuntu 15.04 on MeLE PCG03 a while ago, I had to re-install Windows 8.1 on the device. The backup I used with dd did not work, so I had to download the firmware from MeLE forums, and it worked OK. Right after the re-installation was complete, it asked me if I wanted to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, and I have given it a try, especially a few days ago somebody asked about Windows 10 on MeLE PCG01. So I’ll describe the update process on PCG03, show benchmarks results, and write about my experience with Kodi 15.0 in Windows 10.

Upgrading to Windows 10

Once you are ready to update to Windows 10, the system will check for updates, and ask whether you want to download and install Windows 10.

Windows_10_UpdateThe download is over 2GB large, so it may take a while. It took PCG03 around 2 to 3 hours to complete the download. Windows_10_ReadyOnce it’s done, Windows will let you know that “Your upgrade to Windows 10 is ready”, and ask you to reboot. I was expecting the installation to take one hour, but after 2 hours and thirty minutes, about 25% was completed, so I went to bed, and left it run overnight… In the morning, I just had to click a few more times, and Windows 10 was installed successfully.

Windows 10 Desktop (Click for Original Size)

Windows 10 Desktop (Click for Original Size)

Setup is mostly finished, but I soon got notified that after Windows 10 installation, as well as PCMark8 and Kodi, the eMMC flash was nearly full… and directed to Settings->Storage.

Windows_10_StorageThe reason being that Windows 10 keeps a copy of Windows 8.1 for a month just in case you decided to revert. This is all good on a PC with a large hard drive or SSD, but on a 32GB system, this becomes problematic. It’s easy to remove Windows 8.1.

  1. Click on This PC (C:)
  2. Wait until usage is shown, and scroll down to Temporary Files (in my case 10.5 GB)
  3. Click on Temporary Files to see more details.
    Windows_10_Delete_Previous_Version_of_Windows
  4. Finally click on “Delete previous versions” to recover over 10GB of storage. For some reasons I had to click there twice, as after the first click, and a few minutes processing the 10.1GB still showed. But finally, all worked, and I got 18.4GB free space.

Free_Space_Windows_10

Finally, I wanted to check whether the License status changed after installation, and the mini PC is still said to run an activated version of Windows. All Good!

Windows 10 Activated on MeLE PCG03 (Click to Enlarge)

Windows 10 Activated on MeLE PCG03 (Click to Enlarge)

Testing Windows 10

Everything appears to work as it should on Windows 10 including Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth, although after pairing with my Mediatek phone successfully, I failed to send a file over Bluetooth.

I’ve also run PCMark 8 and DiskCrytalMark to compare the results to the ones I got with Windows 8.1.

MeLE_PCG03_PCMark8_Win10_vs_Win8

PCMark 8 – Windows 8.1 vs Windows 10 (Click to Enlarge)

1105 points in Windows 8.1 against 1052 points in Windows 10 with Futuremark PCMark 8, so both results are quite similar as they should be.

CrystalDiskMark_Windows_8.1_vs_Windows_10

CrystalDiskMark results may not be directly comparable as Windows 8.1 was tested with version 3.0.3, and Windows 10 with the latest version 5.0.2. Only two tests share the same name between versions: “4K” and “Seq”, and results are indeed similar, with a non-negligible advantage in Windows 10 for the “4K” test, but it’s difficult to know if it’s because of improvement to the operating systems or the benchmark app itself, without re-installing Windows 8.1 and testing with CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2 again, which I won’t do…

But overall, Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 8.1 and such device is pretty straightforward, albeit it may take many hours, and performance should be expected to be similar.

Finally, I installed Kodi 15.0 from an earlier download, and a first I got the message “XBMC can’t load sqlite3.dll” when starting Kodi. But I re-downloaded Kodi 15 for Windows again, and the error message disappeared. I could play files from a USB hard drive, and an “open” SAMBA share, but I could not connect to a password-protected SAMBA share located on an Ubuntu 14.04 computer. I pllayed various 1080p and 4K videos, and as with Kodi 14 on Windows 8.1 results were very good, except for H.265 videos with are not supported by the platform.

What about MeLE PCG01? I tried to do the update too, but all I could do is reserve an update slot, and I have to be patient until Microsoft schedules the update for the TV stick. But MeLE told me Windows 10 is running OK on the stick:

We have upgrade PCG01 to Windows 10 Home Edition successfully. Note that we have also installed all the patches available for Windows 8.1 with Bing before we upgrade it to Windows 10 Home Edition.

As for drivers, you do not need to install extra drivers after you upgraded it to Window 10 Home Edition. Everything works fine until now in our office. For example we can intall 3DMark on PCG01 to test on Windows 10

The update should also work with most other Intel Atom Z3735F devices, although some dual boot devices may brick if you attempt the update, so be careful if you have such device. I’m also not sure what happens if you have a non-activated version of Windows 8.1 installed.

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Mini Review of MeLE PCG01 Intel HDMI TV Stick

August 5th, 2015 7 comments

I reviewed MeLE PCG03 mini PC powered by Intel Atom Z3735F processor at the beginning of the year, and there are now many different models from manufacturer which all come with the same processor, 2GB RAM, and 32GB storage either in box or stick form factor. MeLE also released their own Bay Trail stick, similar to Intel Compute Stick, called MeLE PCG01, which they sent me for review.

Most of these products are very similar, and all run Windows 8.1 by default, so the main differentiating factor between companies being price, whether they use a properly licensed version of Windows or not, and the thermal design of the enclosure, which may also impact performance as a good design will prevent CPU throttling. So in this review, after quickly checking the mini PC and accessories, I’ll take apart the device to check in more details what has been done to cool it, and follow up with some benchmarks and compare them to MeLE PCG03 results.

MeLE PCG01 Unboxing

I received the package via EMS Singapore in about 10 days after shipping.
MeLE_PCG01_Package
The stick comes with a USB OTG adapter, a female to female HDMI adapter in case you need to use an HDMI cable, a Quick Start Guide in English, and a 5V/2A power supply with US, UK, EU, and AU plug adapters which can really convenient for those who travel in various countries, and want to use the stick on the go.

PCG01 mini PC and Accessories (Click to enlarge)

PCG01 mini PC and Accessories (Click to enlarge)

The device’s enclosure has some “fins” on top, possibly for better cooling.

MeLE PCG01 (Click to Enlarge)

MeLE PCG01 (Click to Enlarge)

The interfaces are quite standard with one male HDMI output, two micro USB ports (one DC, one OTG), a USB 2.0 host port, a micro SD slot, and a power button. The external antenna differentiate PCG01 slightly from its competitors usually featuring an internal antenna.

I’ve also shot a short unboxing video.

 MeLE PCG01 Tear-down

With the right tools, it’s pretty easy to open the stick, as the bottom cover is simply clipped to the top one. Just start sliding a sharp tools in the small openings around the HDMI port to gently unclip the cover.

MeLE_PCG01_OpenThere’s a thin metallic plate with some thermal paste to provide heat conduction to the bottom of the plastic enclosure.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Again the metal shield will be easy removed, and we can see some of the components used for the stick like an RTC + battery, the usual Realtel RTL8723BS Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Bluetooth, and Samsung eMMC and DDR3 chips.

MeLE_PCG01_Copper_PlateAfter loosening and taking out two screws, I could remove the board from the case, and again some thermal paste is used to conduct heat to the between a metal plate (but this time maybe made of copper) to the plastic enclosure.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I haven’t taken it apart further to avoid impacting the design, but there’s a thin white rubber? layer right under the metal place, and another metal shield made of the same material. So the company appears to have made efforts to dissipate heat as best as possible.

Setting Up MeLE PCG01

I’ve connected a bunch of peripheral to the stick including a USB hard drive, as well as a kerboard and mouse via a USB hub connected via the USB OTG adapter that comes with the device. Despite having only a 5V/2A power adapter, I never had troubles while running the device.

However, my first boot was quite disappointing as Windows 8.1 was setup with simplified Chinese language, while I expected the same wizard as with MeLE PCG03., which let me choose my language, and create an account. But with MeLE PCG01, there was already an account, and that’s what I could see when accessing the settings…

Control Panel in Chinese (Click to Enlarge)

Control Panel in Chinese (Click to Enlarge)

So I asked MeLE about this, and they told me: “You can change the languages as it has been already pre-installed with 16 languages kit in the settings which you do not need to download from the Internet.” Unfortunately, since the interface was in Chinese, it was not exactly straightforward to change. Luckily, I found the following instructions on Internet to change the language to English in Windows 8.1, and MeLE eventually provided screenshots to change the language, together with apologies for not changing the language to English after testing.

Once, I got a the language right, I went to “PC Info” to check the license status…

MeLE_PCG01_PC_Info… and the device indeed runs an activated version of Windows 8.1 with Bing.

MeLE PCG01 Benchmarks and Temperature

The next step is to check PCMark 8 and CrystalDiskMark benchmark results and compared then with the ones I got with the larger MeLE PCG03.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

MeLE PCG01 gets 1,116 points while PCG03 got 1,105 points for the same test, so both devices seem to perform as well. There’s a “time measurement data not available” warning however for the stick results, and I’m not sure if may have affected the results.

CrystalDiskMark_Mele_PCG01The Samsung flash used in the stick is also just as good as the ones in PCG03 with sequential read and write speeds of respectively 169MB/s and 76 MB/s (in CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2) against 165MB and 69MB/s for PCG03 (in CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3).

We’ve already seen Kodi works very well on Intel Atom Z3735F hardware either in Windows 8.1 or Ubuntu, but with some hardware such as PiPo X7, people noticed CPU throttling with some videos with high framerate, leading to poor video playback. So I tested two 1080p 60fps videos as well as a 2160p 24fps video in Kodi, and I could not notice any slowdown, but I still noted the maximum temperature I measured with an infrared thermometer.

Max Temperature
Case Top
Max Temperature
Case Bottom
Idle 63 °C 60 °C
Big Buck Bunny 1080p H.264 60 fps 80 °C 77 °C
Big Buck Bunny 1080p H.264 60 fps 3D 80 °C 78 °C
Sintel 4K H.264 24 fps 72 °C 69 °C

Although the videos played smoothly, the device got pretty hot at 80°C maximum while playing the 60fps videos, and with some other videos with different codec and/or bitrate, it might be that the system needs to slowdown a bit in order to cool down, but it’s not something that happens with the three test videos I used.

Conclusion

MeLE PCG01 is another Bay Trail-T TV dongle, but the company’s work on the thermal design seems to have paid off, as performance is just as good and stable as on larger devices which are supposed to handle heat better. The stick also comes with a proper license for Windows 8.1 Bing, and an external Wi-Fi antenna. Although I have not formally tested the latter, I used the Wi-Fi connection to download videos and benchmark applications, and it maxed out my Internet connection (11 Mbps) during download, without any loss of connection during the hour long download.

The biggest challenge for MeLE PCG01 may be its price, as they company asks for $169 including shipping on Amazon US, while Intel Compute stick, with virtually the same specs, goes for $153 also including shipping. However, MeLE does some regular promotions on their Aliexpress store, and  PCG01 is currently available for $126.75 for the next 4 days.

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MeLE PCG01 is a Windows 8.1 TV Stick with External WiFi Antenna, Optimized Thermal Design

May 24th, 2015 No comments

MeLE has released their own Intel Atom Z3735F HDMI TV Stick running Windows 8.1. MeLE PCG01 looks very much like MeegoPad T01, but the company claims to be the first to include an external Wi-Fi antenna, and they’ve worked on improving power dissipation.

MeLE_PCG01

MeLE PCG01 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F  “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics Gen 7 (2W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L-1333
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC (Class 5 up to 90MB/s) + micro SD slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi up to 300 Mbps and Bluetooth 4.0 with external antenna
  • USB – 2x micro USB port (including one for power only), 1x USB host port
  • Misc – Power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – 102 x 49 x 11.5mm
  • Weight – N/A

The mini PC runs Windows 8.1 with Bing NTE properly licensed and activated.

MeLE PCG01 Temperature Test Report (Click to Enlarge)

MeLE PCG01 Temperature Test Report (Click to Enlarge)

Thermal dissipation is achieved with a copper heatsink on the CPU, heat-conductive silicon rubber, and heat-insulative stickers on key components that should allow 24/7 operation, and the company released a “temperature rise test report” showing temperature is under control even after 13 hours of playing a high bitrate 1080p video.

MeLE PCG01 will eventually sell for $169, but pre-orders are $139 on Amazon US or Aliexpress.

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